The crunch from Twilight Covening is winding down- only winding down, not over because we still have the yahoo group so we can keep discussing, asking questions, offering tips, sharing experiences, etc. about the divination techniques we talked about over the weekend. I spent almost all day yesterday uploading the files for the various handouts we had for the Snowy Owl Clan onto the website, but more on this later. I like to be as chronological as I can.
The weather is typical New England gorgeous fall weather- which means that we have occasional rainy days, and then the sun comes out and *POW* the sun hits the red and gold, and blasts your eyes out. I especially love turning up Pinnacle Road because there’s the pond at the bottom (where the firemen fill their tank truck). In the summer it has water lilies, but
I’m in process of catching up on my sleep after first staying up late to get the handouts ready, and then staying up late over the weekend. I tell you what though, in my observation, I am more SLEEPY (as opposed to simply more tired) the last few days as I’ve been taking advantage of caffeine to stay awake when I need to (like on the drive back). I’m afraid of napping because if I do go to bed for a couple of hours at say 5, and then get up at 7, I’ll probably feel fine to stay up past midnight, and that won’t help me get back on schedule at all-at all.
Last week I spent all my time printing out handouts and remembering things to put in the car. Wednesday Star packed the car with all the things that I’d been collecting in the living room, while I finished looking for things. I’d made snowy owl candlesticks and a bunch of clay crows, some with holes so they could be worn, some without, and glazed them and set them to fire (show-off that I am). Sadly, in the morning the kiln had turned off before it got to the heat to fire the glaze, and the black was still brick colored. I took them anyway.
Skipping ahead, I’ll say why I made them. The whole deal of Twilight Covening is that it is a three day ritual- they open sacred space on Friday night, then there are many other little rituals all weekend, with a big one Sunday, and there’s a closing circle on Monday afternoon. In between the various rituals is “clan space”. The people who come (150-200, closer to 150 this year) are divided into “clans”, each of which is named after an animal. (After many years, so many animals have been taken, they are getting into fantasy animals and more specific species.) Our clan was “Snowy Owl”, so named because we were studying divination. Last year in the Moose clan we studied Herbalism. Other clans this year included Screech Owl (singing), Nightingale (music with instruments), Monkeys drum, Camels do yoga, Caribou explore woman power, Serpents are the organizers, and there are Wyverns and Phoenix, and the guys who run the kitchen crews call themselves the Flamingo Clan, don’t ask me why. Snowy Owl is a reference to the owls in Harry Potter bringing messages. (I don’t have any idea what relationship Moose have to herbs.) The Crows are the people who vollunteer to do all the stuff that keeps the event going- like the autocrat and his or her helpers in the SCA. I find it sad that someone who believes in something so much works on it to the level that they miss it, so when I heard that one of their jobs was to clean up the fire pits, I made a dozen or so ceramic crows, and the plan was to slip them into a fire-pit so they’d find it when they cleaned up, and at least have something special from the weekend. A little thank-you, because I think cleaning is usually a pretty thankless task. I was bummed that the crows would not be black.
Back to Thursday. We’ve been trying to get together with Sue and Alva, and they had invited us to come to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday. It occurred to me that although I was leaving Thursday, the kids weren’t, and after all, they are the directly related ones. Their plan was to meet at the Huntington Avenue entrance at 11, have lunch and see as much of the museum as energy would allow. I know they did get off around nine, and then made the connection. Pretty much all else I heard was that Star dominated the conversation, and they didn’t see the mummies.
Meanwhile I was back at home, do last minute e-mail checks (as people reminded each other to bring this or that) and making a couple of batches of cookies to have with our session on Tasseomancy (reading tea leaves)- which I imprinted with owls with cookie stamps I’d made. That took me right up to two o’clock. Google maps said it takes three and a half hours, but I figured it would be four, and knew it would get dark by 6, so I decided I WOULD be there by six (“so let it be written, so let it be done”). And I did. Jane arrived at just about the same time. (and it proceeded to get dark. It was fully dark by the time I had the car unpacked.
Johnathan had warned me as he packed my boxes of books that I’d better have someone young and strong to carry them in for me. What caused more trouble was that when I’d finally finished packing, I closed the back so enthusiastically that it locked shut- which meant that I had to unload it from the side to the point where I could go in over the back seats to jimmy the lock with a screwdriver. (I’ve GOT to get that fixed one of these days.) But if you can’t be strong, you can be smart, and the heavier boxes I got in by the simple expedient of taking the books out and carrying them in 20 pounds of books at a time, so there!
The clan leaders come in on Thursday night to get set up, and they have a pot-luck barbecue dinner, which was very pleasant. That night and the next morning we set up our tables. Each clan had as many picnic tables as they needed to hold their members. I’d say most clans had about 7 people. The crows and Snowy Owls had 13- we were the most popular (I imagine that some of the people wanted divination as their first choice, but were diverted to keep the balance better. I could be flattering myself.) Jane brings so many candles (to which my six were added), which resulted in a candle every six inches or so- we were blazing! She also put up a table with a coffee grinder, a coffee pot, tea pot, cooler with whipped cream and cider to drink, various honeys, several of her line of gourmet coffee beans, the cute little lighted fountain she got at the filk con this June, etc. and so forth, so we were SET UP.
The clan cabin was equally elaborate. Having heard weather reports of it going down into the 30s, we brought tapestries to hang over all the windows, then twinkle lights and candles in jars to counter keeping them closed. Several people brought card tables, (and lights and candles- and one person brought a really cool gargoyle) and we hung up scarves and drapes over everything that looked boring, so it looked very cool. While looking for wool (as I think I mentioned last week) I’d found some printed fabric with the designs of the Hogwarts Houses on it. There was a set of shelves in the cabin, and I covered that with the Hogwarts cloths, and put my “toys” on that, and another set of shelves. A long shelf on one wall held my tarot cards, my posters from Psychic parties were propped around. The toys included non-tarot cards for divination, the Bodron with the Snowy Owl Willow had painted on it, dousing rods and pendula, dice, dominos, dreidles, crystals, crystal balls- and other things with which to scry, the Mystic Eye, the Magic 9 Ball, books for bibliomancy, Fortune telling fish, fortune cookies, a Majong Set (an old one, with ivory tiles), rune sticks, the Tibetan Mo system, I Ching coins and rods, and bags with scarabs, crystals, rune tiles, and more I can’t remember. I have been collecting this stuff for years.
Jane and I also each brought a small book case, which we set up on tables displaying other stuff like pendulums Jane has for sale from when she sold crystals rather than the spice mixes that now provide her bread and butter. She also had a set of sea shells for sea shell divination, and a basket of crystal balls. Everyone brought him or herself a chair to sit on, and some brought an extra. We set up seven tables (with table-clothes and candles) between each two chairs so they could practice readings with each other. This was complicated by having to fit them into a cabin with built-in bunk beds, which we had to work around. (and I complicated it further by trying to use feng shui to make the energy move around the room in more positive ways. Feng shui doesn’t like it when there are two doors opposite each other; the energy goes straight through.)
Over on one of the bunks we put out the handouts we’d brought- mine were in notebooks, and I brought a three hole punch so Jane’s could be added. She had painted snowy owls on bags for each person. They each also got a set of rune-sticks made from craft (popsicle) sticks, and bags in which we put various bits and pieces for the system called “throwing the bones” (or “garbageomancy”). Each of us brought stuff which we pooled- keys, and metal charms and beads and shells and such- no real bones thank goodness. I also brought my tripod and posters, but had left behind one of the portfolios, so I had to teach palmistry without the posters I usually have with me- most inconvenient!
As you may imagine, the effect was “wicked awesome”, and we enjoyed working there. Bacchus brought several bottles of his home brew (secreted in Kitty litter buckets, and sipped discreetly), and I’d brought my propane heaters which were most welcome.
The clan members started arriving on Friday. Luckily, Josh, who is tall, arrived early and was most welcome to help with getting the twinkle lights up. Years ago I got three sets of lights that have suns and moons as the covers for the bulbs- back during the height of the Celestial craze, but sadly, I seem to have kept them long enough that they stopped working before I ever used them. Darn! .
We taught any time there wasn’t something for everyone going on. Communal activities included meals- breakfast, lunch, and dinner- all top quality. Each clan did have to put in one shift in the kitchen, which we did first thing on Saturday, and got it over with. In fact, our clan was large enough that we switched crews mid shift. Also before each meal and at midnight there was an “attunement”- those present raised some energy, and attuned themselves to the rest of the people, and the area. The overall theme is supposed to help us transition into the dark half of the year. I suppose that’s a lot more important for all the people who live in cities and work in offices and don’t get out into the real world much.
Other rituals: Friday night was the opening Circle in which we introduced ourselves, and each person brought a harvest vegetable- these were put into a soup which we shared before the main ritual, so I brought ten pounds of onions to try to give it some flavor. So many people bring pumpkins and squash that it tends to be rather insipid. Later there was a “releasing fire” where people would write down what they’d like to have out of their lives and throw it in a fire to get rid of it. Saturday there were three rituals- a trance dance, a Clear Space which people could go to relax, and Dream Circle. On Sunday was the big Visioning Ritual, and then there was a Closing Circle on Monday. And besides that, Jane and I had to go to several Clan leader meetings. When I was just assisting, in Moose Clan, when she went to them, I could keep teaching. Now I had to attend, and we just gave the clan assignments, which I assume they did. When we were getting ready for the big ritual on Sunday, while the leaders were setting up, the clan members had free time, and our Snowy Owls did two hours of reading for anyone else who came by.
Some of the people in our clan were brand new to divination, some had actually read professionally before. I was especially eager for the ones who’d never done it before to get the experience of reading for other people. From what I hear, they did read, and both the readers and those who got readings really enjoyed it. But every minute that wasn’t eating, sleeping, or other ritual was crammed with teaching. Heck, I even called their sleep time “dream incubation”- although we didn’t get any prophetic dreams out of anyone- that they mentioned.
The classes progressed from talking about the toys and tools we had there, and then to theories about psychic versus physical perception of patterns. Many types of prognostication are simply observation of patterns- we see this in Meteorology, handwriting analysis, psychological profiling, even medical diagnosis is made by observing signs and symptoms, and projecting from what we can see to what we can infer about what we cannot. It’s not that far from looking at medical diagnosis to palmistry- looking at physical characteristics and knowing that when they appeared in other people, a pattern of psychological characteristics were observably paired. Of course, then we get to the ESP part of divination. Some of us (all of us there, I figure) accept that there are energies flowing through the world and we can perceive them- although often we need tools to do so. Heck, doctors need tools to help them. We started with dousing.
The American Dousing Society says that about 90% of people can douse successfully the first time (and 100% of children, who don’t have a psychological resistance). Once they’d had that success, we moved on to psychometry (picking images up while holding something) which is a bit harder, but very good for teaching the reader to just report whatever stupid thing comes into his or her mind, because even if he doesn’t understand it, the person who he’s reading for may. This is a really important skill not just for soothsaying, but also for meditation. In theory we were going to move on from that to scrying, but we ran out of time on that progression, although one could say that dream interpretation could be counted in that progression.
The next type of divination is things like Palmistry- things that while regular science doesn’t think it’s possible, observing what’s going on on a person’s body will tell you about more than that part. This lead to a discussion of symbol sets- in Europe we use the symbols of Western Astrology- based on the myths of the Greek and Roman gods, Chinese Astrology uses their myths, the I Ching reflects their attitudes about the universe- as does their system of five elements: water, air, wood, metal and fire, and western four elements: earth air fire and water, and, as Jane pointed out, the Norse have but three earth, water, and air (fire is very hot air)- the Celts divided in a similar way- land, sea and sky. Our symbols reflect our world views, and give us a vocabulary to use. We talk about the characteristics of the fingers in palmistry by referring to them by astrological terms that convey a huge range of characteristics in a single word. Vedic palmistry does the same with their terms- only it expresses things in terms they understand- but the cool thing is they both agree on what characteristics each area of a palm shows. We had to talk about symbols Saturday morning, because Saturday afternoon Chris Lafond, who’s an astrologer, came to give us a better unit on Astrology than I could have done.
Another large division of divination is to use something to represent other things- symbolically. Then you randomize the ways the symbols can be paired or seen in relationship to each other, and it seems that those indicate what the microcosm or the macrocosm is doing. I’m not really sure about the mechanism for this, although I think we approach it in the study of Quantum Physics when we see how observing a phenomenon affects how it works. Not having huge amounts of time, I didn’t worry about that, but we went on to all sorts of sortilage (throwing lots). We cast seeds first thing so that after casting them we could send them over to be included in the ritual soup (which surely couldn’t hurt). After than we moved on to casting runes, throwing the bones, and laying out card spreads- just in time for them to do their public readings.
The focus of the Visioning ritual was coming to a mystical understanding of fire. The Earth Spirit people are big into rituals, and I have to accept that they have been valued in many religions as sources of spiritual enlightenment although they’ve never done as much for me as a good theatrical production can do. In this ritual they started out (as usual) blindfolded, walking to the first station where they were told a story (myth) that should direct their attention to a mystical interpretation of the following encounters. Their path led all around the 4-H camp we were using, up to the rifle range, down to the beach, through the woods, over land and on roads- each time being told to “seek the next fire”. There was a purification fire, a sacrifice fire, a courage fire (I’d probably remember them better if I’d visited, rather than just heard about them all). One station had nine cauldrons with fires inside them (rather than under them) which the people were supposed to feed, to understand that fire had needs to. At another they were supposed to learn to listen to and speak to the fire. The ninth and last fire was the “Core” fire, with various stations around it- at one there was a mirror, at another you could tie twigs together into triangles to throw into the core fire, each person had been given a symbolic acorn to toss into the core fire.
And there was me. The people at the various stations were dressed in black and red, and I was in a red wool gown (I tried to tell them to stick to wool and avoid synthetics while dealing with fires) and lots of amber- my usual Anglo-Saxon clothing. Most of the fires were in fire bowls- the dishes on legs that have become so popular in the SCA because they allow you to have a campfire off the ground. I’d suggested that when thinking about the productive aspects of fire, one thinks of cooking (since forging seemed a little intense for something quick). So I had prepared enough bread dough so that each person could have a piece wound around the end of a stick and cook it over the coals. (I told several of them that the lesson of this fire was that while flame illuminates, coals are better for cooking.) After experimenting at home, we’d picked up 10 quarter-inch dowels which allowed 10 people to be able to hold their dough over the hearth at once. I’d brought my iron tripod and cauldron to hang over it, and besides the bread, we were heating water in the pot with a bunch of mulling spices. This not only smelled good, but allowed us to pour the hot spiced water into the cold cider resulting in a warm drink you could enjoy right away. (The soup, earlier, had been so hot I could hardly eat it before it was time to head out to the ritual.) Luckily, at the last minute I grabbed the stoneware pitcher I’d picked up at the “yard sale” at the Bridge event. It was a lot easier pouring a pint of hot water into a pint of cider in the pitcher, and then using that to pour the mix into cups. And since it was a sturdy little jug, it could be set on the edge of the fire pit to keep warm between requests for cider.
Since we were going to be cooking on it, I’d brought a bag of real charcoal- the lumps made from wood as opposed to molded briquettes with accelerant in them. I don’t really like cooking over that stuff. During the prep time I’d laid the coal in the fire bowl, and carefully placed the little ceramic crows in the charcoal. It occurred to me that if Ekkehart could forge on a ceramic dish of charcoal, if the crows were in the coals the glaze might fire- depending on how hot it got. Certainly cooking fires don’t get as hot as a kiln, but who knows what it’s like in the middle? Not me. I did feel that if I hid them in the Core Fire, the great big logs they use there might crash down and crush them- or break off beaks or wings or legs, so I’d rather maintain that much control. I did, however, not get enough kindling under the charcoal, and even when I brought over a well blazing piece of wood from the big fire, it didn’t really catch until one of the other fire tenders with a blowing tube helped. Gosh, those are wonderful tools! But it did get going about the time people started arriving, and they were able to cook their pieces of dough over it, and it heated the water.
It did keep me busy- I’d break off a piece of dough, roll it into a “snake”, wrap a piece of paper (I’d printed out 160 “fortunes” or, rather, quotes about fire, and cut them into strip), I wrapped one of these around the end of a dowel, then wrapped a spiral of dough over it, and set those in a tripod I’d brought (hoping for two fires, one for the bread and one for the cider- but it made a good stand for the dowels), then did another, and sometimes I’d stop to pour a cup of cider, or mix more hot drink in the pitcher, or add water to the cauldron, or feed more charcoal into the fire as it got used up… (I do fear that after doing that I probably left some black smears on the dough I was pinching off and rolling, but it was dark enough that no one seems to have noticed, and charcoal is something we can and do take internally anyway, so it wasn’t dangerous.) There was another lady who came help me later as the crowd got bigger (I think she was at one of the story fires earlier in the evening), and by the time she got there, I really needed it.
Another thing I did during the weekend was whenever there was a ritual at a cabin very far from the central area, Jane or I would drive anyone who was mobility impaired there. We did that for an alternative to the Visioning Ritual. Anyone who wasn’t up to an hour and a half walk in the dark through the woods, up and down rocky paths could do a guided meditation that recreated the same encounters. I do the alternate ritual because my night vision isn’t really up to it- just as I don’t drive anywhere I’d have to read street signs or catch landmarks after dark. This time, however I was a part of the ritual. I got to tell people that “A hearth fire isn’t fussy, it doesn’t mind if you throw your paper cup in there.” (The Core fire was too sacred to dispose of trash in it. I personally think that this is BS, but it’s tradition, so I’m not going to argue about it.) Jane and I drove the 10 or so folk down to the cabin near the core fire, and if any of them wanted to come over to the Core Fire after their ritual, the other lady was going to get them, but only one came up and said the others didn’t want to. So when she showed up, I told her not to bother. Sadly, that was also going to be the signal for Jane to drive as many of the others as would fit in her car (and maybe take two trips) up to the dining hall to help prepare it for the feast they have after the big ritual. So she waited until she finally sent a runner up to ask when they could go. Oops. My bad.
And that was the big ritual, after they put out the Core Fire, everyone headed back toward the dining hall, and the Crows picked up, helping me with my stuff. I’d wanted them to find the clay crows when they cleaned the fire dish, but I was afraid that adding cold water to the hot coals might cause them to shatter, so I gently stirred a couple to the top where they stood out starkly black against the glowing orange coals, and showed the Crow clan folk, and explained that I was afraid that water could make them be damaged. Since they weren’t brain damaged, they figured out who’d put the crows there without my saying so, and they did appreciate them. I suppose that puts me solidly in the same category as the ritualist who hopes that people won’t recognize her as the one who was portraying an archetypal figure in the ritual later, when she’s taken off the face paint and costume.
And I didn’t mention that Saturday night Jane had done an oracular seidhr session to show that version of divination. The Caribou clan came to attend that one with us. I personally think that Jane does much better at getting specific answers to the questions posed to her when she’s in a trance than most people who do it- but that may be because of where-ever it is she goes when she is in the trance. I was the one who served as her anchor- partly awake, and in enough of a trance to be in touch with her. Star (who was running Caribou) did the drumming for her. Willow had painted a Snowy Owl on a bodran for her to use. (Star had her 6 month old daughter there who mostly was carried around on her father’s front in a baby carrier, but I got to hold her. She cut her first tooth during the feast and sat up on her own for the first time Monday morning. SO cute!) This was good because some of the most famous oracles like Delphi and Dodona fall into that category. We’d hoped to have our folk doing scrying, but that, like the session of tea leaf reading, got set aside when other things ran long.
On the last morning we talked about what they’d learned doing public readings, and also how to create your own forms of divination. We also had to break down all the cool stuff we’d put up, and each clan had to do a short skit to give an impression of what they’d been working on. We gathered in the center then Josh (tall, with a gorgeous deep rumbly voice) held up a Magic 8 Ball, which we were pretty sure everyone would recognize and George (who had theatrical training) asked “Oh Magic 8 Ball, what should we do now?”. Josh lowered it and looked at it and announced “Go Home!” Which everyone loved. (and it was quick). The various skits were cute, and they called forth the “Kangaroo Clan” which was basically Robin (Star’s baby) and her father.
And everyone pitched in and helped clean up, which was great. I didn’t get out until after 4, so I didn’t get home until 9ish, and I was so tired I even bought coffee and coke to keep me awake. I have to catch up with my sleep now, which I see by the clock, isn’t working yet.
Yesterday, aside from catching up on mail and putting all the handouts on the internet, I dropped Zoloft off at the vet to get spayed. This morning we picked her up and got Mouse his first set of shots. The Animal Shelter still hasn’t called for the rest of the litter yet, which is a pity because they are at ultimate cuteness now- I guess we get to enjoy it.
Kat pointed out when I got back that she’s been asking to see Raven for some shamanic work for months, so today we went down to his office. He found a mysterious thread coming out of the “hole in her aura”- what created it probably, and did some work on her. As with physical problems, she needs to build up her energy strength to resist damage to her energy body, and we’ve got to work on that. This may sound odd to some people who read this letter, but for us, it’s as reasonable as any other kind of medicine. My studies have led me to believe that the energy body and physical body are both real and affect each other- that’s the essence of psychoneuroimmunology.
While I was gone Star chose all the Netflix movies- and has been continuing his horror movie marathon. He’s watched the Fly (I and II), Fright Night (which had Roddy McDowall as the aging “vampire hunter”, and Chris Sarandon who played Humperdink in Princess Bride), Scream, House (with William Katt from the Greatest American Hero), King Kong. Oddly, he’s gotten past his writer’s block which has been bothering him for some months and is writing again.
Willow has been busy making blankets and stuffies to sell at Bakaratsu Con (and I think is going to soon finish her Maleficent costume.
Dan offered to have us down for Thanksgiving Dinner, but since we have to leave mid-afternoon for Darkover con, we wouldn’t be able to get Johnathan back here (without adding 3 extra hours drive to the 10 to get to the con), so that’s very frustrating. It’s a good con, but it does play havoc with getting together with family.
That’s about it for this week- I told you that Twilight pretty much dominated the week.
The third week of October is Kraut Sandwich Week and Getting the World to beat a path to your door Week. And I think it’s Poetry Week. We’ve got World Poetry Day on Thursday, Black Poetry Day on Saturday, and the Festival of Poetic Terrorism on Sunday.
15 Roast Pheasant Day (yeah, we’re all going to run out and pick one up at the 7-11), World Poetry Day, National Grouch Day, Ether Day
16 World Food Day, National Liqueur Day, Boss’s Day, Dictionary Day
17 Pasta Day, Bridge Day, Mulligan Day, Gaudy Day, Big Yellow Hat Day, UN Day for Eradication of Poverty
18 Chocolate cup-cake Day, World Menopause Day, Shut-in Visitation Day (3d
Sunday) Sweetest Day and Frabjous Day
19 Seafood Bisque Day, Evaluate Your Life Day, AND Change your Life Day, Osteoporosis Day
20 Brandied Fruit Day, Birth of the Bab, Change your Oil Day, and Feast of No Excuse for a Feast
21 Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, Chamber of Commerce Day, Babbling Day (that’s easy), Make a Difference Day,
“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” George Bernard Shaw